Here is a corkbark black pine, Taihei, that I bought about 4 years ago. Here is a shot of the tree in ’09:
Part of the tree’s development is here:
After a bad ’10 growing season (candle-pruned in June, and it didn’t rebud), and strong ’11 and ’12 growing seasons, it was time to start making order out of the chaos that was the last couple years of growth.
I started by thinning the needles and selecting buds. The next step was to determine the best front (fortunately it looks good from 2 sides, which makes styling a bit easier). I used the side that had been the proposed back for the last 3 years because it showed a more interesting trunk line.
Move primary branch down using a guy wire, and spread out other primary branches with wire:
Corkbark pines are brittle, so even thin branches were wrapped with raffia prior to wiring:
Remove too-heavy apex:
What’s that wrap you ask? Parafilm. It stretches, is photodegradable, and sticks to itself. It serves the same purpose as raffia, and more. When I, uh, aggressively move a branch, sometimes it’s good to wrap it in some Parafilm to help it recover. It has many other uses…maybe the topic of another post…
Spread out remaining apex shoots:
What’s next? The tree arrived in a 5-gallon can, and I slip-potted it into the present 7-gallon can in ’09. It’s nowhere close to root-bound, so it will likely stay in the can another year. It will definitely be worked into a bonsai pot in ’14. The present height is 27″ tall, so it was reduced by about 5″. If anything, I will twist the upper trunk about 30 degrees clockwise, to compact the top and lower it just a bit more.
About the cultivar Taihei? It’s a winged corker, whose wings begin as fissures, and eventually split and begin to spiral outward from the trunk and branches. Cork takes decades to mature, but from the photos, it looks like it’s worth the wait. The buds are white and strong. It produces buds readily at the base of this year’s candles, as well as at the tips. Needles are slightly thinner, longer, and paler than the species, but it seems like they can be reduced over time. The one time I summer candle-pruned it, the Taihei did not throw new candles, but rather just set buds for the next year.
Here is a screen shot showing some mature Taihei cork from an article I compiled several years ago: